Melanie Eberhardt introduces us to the real track pony who stars in her latest comic.
“From time to time I create NickerDoodles featuring real people and their horses. Racing isn’t just about the “big events and big names.” Every single day, trainers, excercise riders, grooms, Thoroughbreds and many other horse breeds work at tracks across the country.
Rebecca Johnston, or Becky, is a horse trainer: She spends her days working with Thoroughbred athletes to draw upon their talents and become winners at the track. But Becky’s best horse isn’t one of the race horses: her heart belongs to one of the ponies, a 14-hand palomino Quarter horse who was pulled off the slaughter truck for $500 and given a job at the track.
Pancake did not easily adapt to his new role as a track employee. At first he had to be drugged for the farrier. He would get loose and no one could catch him. If Becky sneezed, he would buck “like a crazy man.” But Pancake now LOVES his job, calmly and firmly leading the much larger Thoroughbreds around the track and barns. Becky explained the moment when Pancake won her heart: “we were leading a really big Thoroughbred who suddenly spun and t-boned me and Pancake. I thought I was dead. But Pancake saw what was happening and turned to take the impact, saving me. This little horse will literally lay down his heart in order to not turn a horse loose. I couldn’t be prouder to ride his yellow belly.”
If you happen to find yourself at Belterra during the summer or Turfway in the winter, look for Becky and Pancake and give them a shout hello!”
About Melanie: I am an artist in Atlanta. When I’m not painting, I’m riding horses. I have 3 retired Arabians and a snotty pony at home. They keep me on my toes. Three years ago I bought a young OTTB straight off the track. My new fella, Bubba, and I are learning dressage. Sadly, I’m the weak link on Team Bubba, but I learn something every time we ride so it’s all good. I started NickerDoodles to document the horsey antics that abound within my world. I’m very fortunate to balance my life with things that I love – painting and riding – and NickerDoodles gives me a forum to share. If we’re not laughing at our horses and ourselves, we’re probably crying. I prefer to laugh! I hope everyone enjoys NickerDoodles.